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Celebrating Hanukkah – The Jewish Festival of Lights

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Hanukkah is observed on the 25th day of Kislev, or the third month in the Hebrew lunar calendar, and usually falls in late November or late December in the Gregorian calendar. The word Hanukkah means “dedication,” which refers to the rededication of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in the year 165 BCE in the Hebrew calendar. The rededication story celebrates one of the greatest miracles in Jewish history. At one point, the sacred temple had fallen into ruin, but with their sincere devotion to be one with God, the Jewish people patiently cleaned every inch of the holy place, built a new altar, and repaired the whole structure. After the restoration was completed, they dedicated it to God once again. Thus is the origin of Hanukkah and its “rededication.” Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights to symbolize the triumph of light over darkness, indicating a celebrative moment when God’s light shines upon longing souls. Traditionally, the eight candle lights of Hanukkah represent a miracle that happened while restoring the Jewish Temple. There was only a small container of pure olive oil sufficient to light the menorah for only one night, but after they lit the menorah, it stayed alight for eight straight nights! This miracle assured God’s presence, and the sages of the Jewish faith appointed these eight days for an annual celebration. Thus, throughout Hanukkah, all Jewish family members partake in the nightly lighting of the menorah, an important custom that echoes the heart of this festival. Hanukkah is celebrated by enjoying traditional foods, playing games, and exchanging gifts. The Hanukkah holiday is filled with joy and festivities. It is a time for families, friends, and the entire community to gather together in a positive and amiable atmosphere to celebrate the historical resilience of the Jewish people. During this year’s Festival of Lights, let us bathe in renewed faith of the Divine blessings, and unite in understanding, in peace, and in the love that transcends all of God’s children, human and non-human alike.
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